Thursday, August 15, 2002
Steamboat Springs It wasn't the biggest race of her career, but snowboarder Michelle Gorgone's third-place finish last Monday at the Chilean snowboard championships will earn her a spot in the World Cup opener early next month.
"It wasn't the strongest field of racers ever, but getting a chance at the World Cup that's a pretty big deal," Gorgone said of the giant slalom race. She just returned to her parents' home in Sudbury, Mass., from the three-week training camp in South America earlier this week.
Because of her finish in Chile, Gorgone will get the chance to race in the first parallel giant slalom, which is scheduled for Sept. 13-15 in Valle Nevado and has also been invited to the second World Cup event, which is in Solden, Austria, Oct. 11-13.
"It's true that the field wasn't that deep for that race," former coach Mike Mallon said. "But this is an important finish for Michelle. It gets her back on the World Cup and gives her some confidence as she heads into the season."
Ben Fairchild (Kirkland, Wash.) and former world champion Sondra Van Ert (Ketchum, Idaho) won the final events the U.S. riders competed in, a giant slalom Sunday at the Pucon resort. Rain forced organizers, who already had moved the schedule back two days, to change a parallel giant slalom to a giant slalom format.
Van Ert won the women's giant slalom in a time of 1 minute, 19.03 seconds and Stacia Hookom (of Edwards) took second with a two-run time of 1:19.79. Gorgone came in third with a time of 1:2106.
It was the second strong showing in a row for Gorgone. A few days earlier, she placed second in the Brazilian national championships, which were in Valle Nevado. Gorgone finished behind Hookom in that race.
Gorgone is hoping this summer is a sign of things to come as she starts to build momentum for the 2006 Winter Olympics.
She wants to build up points so she can secure her place on the World Cup Tour.